A Long Story About a Short Period of Time
Just like so many people on here, Iíve recently been separated from my wife. Iíve read a lot of posts, but like everyone, my situation is slightly different. Iím hoping that some of you might have some words of wisdom/encouragement. Iíll try to keep this brief, but it is quite a tale.
My wife and I have been together for eight years and married for four and a half. A little over a month ago (February 13th) I came home from a class to her sitting at the dining room table. I kissed her, said ďLoveĒ and went to put my stuff away. She didnít reply and I asked, ďIs everything OK?Ē She said, ďNo.Ē
Thatís when she told me that she was done. That she couldnít do this anymore. All the standard reasons. Financial differences, personalities growing apart, differing life goals. Things had been in a rut for a few months. I knew things were getting bad and I had started to try and rectify things. We went out on a few dates, I started leaving love notes and bringing her little gifts. Things that I used to do back when we were dating. But it appears that it was too little too late. But I missed the big thing; I didnít tell her that I thought things were going bad. I wanted to avoid that conversation for fear of what she might do. Stupid, I know.
She had put a deposit on an apartment the week before and was living there two days after she told me. She moved all her stuff out the Saturday after the bomb dropped. Obviously I was just in shock. She said sheíd been thinking about this for months and she did it that way because she was worried if she didnít just get out, I might be able to convince her to stay.
Iím what many people call a ďcrisis situation personĒ. When things go to pot, I just get very calm and try to find a solution to the problem. Thatís what I was trying to do with my wife. During the time that she was packing I was trying to get answers, trying to convince her that we could work it out. She said that I couldnít change. That sheíd tried to make it work, but nothing helped. I told her that I couldnít remember having a conversation about things heading down this path, she exploded saying that I never listened and that I was always trying to get her to do what I wanted. That I was killing her, and stormed out. Harsh? YeahÖ
She was on the fast track for a divorce. She wanted the papers filed ASAP. I kept pushing for a separation. She wavered, sometimes agreeing, sometimes saying whatís the point, sheís done and not interested in working it out. An interesting thing during this period was that when she was really angry, she was talking about how much she wanted it all to be over then and now. When she was slightly less angry, she was more conciliatory. Not just on the divorce vs. separation but saying that she still cared for me and did (past tense) love me instead of saying that I was killing her and the last eight years were a waste. In my readings since this all happened, Iíve discovered that this is pretty common for women in highly emotionally charged situations.
Anyway, when she finally moved all her stuff out on the Saturday I had her convinced to do a 90 day separation and one joint counseling session. When she left I asked her to take these 90 days to consider me as a potential partner for the future. She was in tears and said that she would. Thatís sheíd be thinking about that a lot. We shared a deep kiss and she left.
I tried not to talk to her after that until our counseling session the following week. I did run into her at a coffee shop on my lunch break one day. She was there with some people from her work, two guys and a girl. She was shocked to see me and wasnít interested in talking at all. Some people have asked if this was a ďhand in the cookie jarĒ situation. That I had caught her out with the ďother manĒ. I tend to doubt it, because I asked her on several occasions if this was because she had found someone else, and she denied it. Both when she was highly emotional and when she was calmer. And she knows that if it were the case, Iíd shop her. And if she really wanted this to be over ASAP, all she needed to say was that sheíd found someone else. That said; there are still lingering doubts of course.
When we went to see the counselor she was there physically, but mentally she was not. It was apparent from the get go that she didnít want to be there. She was angry most of the time, didnít really change her story from the original reasons. The only new information that I got was that she thought that I was overly persistent and that she was tired of supporting me emotionally and me always deferring decisions to her. This was interesting because it brought to light, for me anyway, one of my big problems. A few years back I lost my job in a very harsh way. Really hit my self esteem hard and I obviously turned to my wife for support. In the following years, I havenít really gotten back the confidence that I had before that, even though I have a better job now and do quite well at it. I became aware of this shift about six months ago and actually brought it up with her. She said that she felt that way too and was glad that I had identified it. I went about trying to build it back, and slowly I have been, but again, I guess too little too late.
That was the only really enlightening part of the counseling session. I obviously just talked about how I wanted to try and work it out. That I was committed to changing, ect. ect. At the end of the session the counselor said that he felt there was a lot of things that we could work through if we just spent some time communicating, either with him or without. My wife just exploded and said she was done. That she couldnít do it anymore. Wasnít interested. All that. I was devastated, of course. When we left and I walked her to her car I was in such a low spot that I just told her to file the papers. She asked if I was serious, and I said yes.
The next day I realized that I didnít want her to file alone, that if she did I wanted to be there. I sent her a text to that effect and she was happy that I was willing to do that and that Thursday, March 1st was when she wanted to because that was the best day she could take time off of work (through this whole thing she could never take time out from work to talk or anything. Which I found interesting.). That was a few days away. After another day I realized that, noÖ no 17 days was not enough time to dissolve a marriage. That I still wanted the separation. So I called her one morning before she went to work and first said that I wanted her to go to counseling before I would sign. She got pissed and hung up on me. Ten minutes or so later after Iíd gotten mad/sad I called her again and she answered angrily and I said that Iíd go sign the papers, but I had to put the only logical reason I could come up with on the paper, that sheís having an affair. She laughed and said no. Said that I was the problem that it wasnít because of anyone else itís just that Iím such a terrible person and hung up.
Now I realize that both of those statements were stupid. Very stupid. So about thirty minutes later I called back and to my amazement, she answered. I apologized for saying those things. That I didnít think that she was having an affair, but that I still hoped that she would consider going to counseling, at least on her own. She said that she was actually considering going on her own, but that she was pissed that I would try and make her. That it was yet another example of me trying to get her to make her do something that I wanted. At this I got pissed. The first time I really snapped in this whole ordeal and I started yelling about how itís never been about what I wanted, itís always been about what she didnít want. That for eight years Iíd been trying to placate her, to make sure that sheís never pushed out of her comfort zone. She was kind of stunned that I said that. That I got mad. She just kinda said, ďUhmÖ I have to go to work. Have a good dayÖĒ and hung up.
Strangely, I felt really good after that conversation. Like it was one of the first time weíd really been honest with each other in a long time. Had a legitimate argument. I really wanted to call he again, but I didnít I sent her an e-mail saying that and saying thatís what I was hoping the 90 day separation would foster, more conversation. And I asked her to let me know her thoughts.
I didnít hear from her for most of the day. On my lunch break I went and closed out our joint bank account and called her to tell her that. Just got her voice mail. She called back about thirty minutes later to ask if Iíd split out the money. I said yes. Then she said, ďThursday at 8am. Does that work for you?Ē I asked her if she had read my e-mail, she said yes and she didnít see the point. That this was what she wanted to do. I snapped again and told her to show some compassion. That we needed some time to try and at least bring this eight year relationship to a amicable conclusion. She had to go because of something at work, but promised to call back.
She did about an hour later and I was ready to launch into it again, but she just said, ďOk. Iíll give you more time. But we canít talk regularly. We canít see each other all the time.Ē I agreed, and thanked her.
She came by the following Saturday to get the last of her stuff. We talked a little, but not much about what needs to be discussed. Just light conversation. I asked her when she wanted to talk next, and she just said that she didnít know a couple times. When she left we hugged and I told her that I hoped we could start talking again soon. That was over two weeks ago. That was the last time I saw or spoke with her.
In the interim Iíve been reading a lot of books; Way of the Superior Man, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Love Must Be Tough, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and plenty of websites, forums, YouTube videos et. all. Iíve been working out (lost 20 pounds, mostly in the first three days from stress), and going to counseling on my own. I feel like Iíve figured out a lot about myself, a lot about what was going wrong in our marriage and a lot of how I could correct those things. I get very frustrated at the thought that most of what was wrong could be easily fixed if we could just talk about it.
Iíve sent her two letters. The first about two weeks ago telling her that Iím OK with the separation and that Iím working on myself and that I realize that the only way that she could ever be happy with me if I was happy with myself again. I didnít expect a response from that, and I havenít gotten one.
The second one I sent yesterday. I was tired of waiting, tired of trying the passive approach of giving her time and Iíd call her and try and just ease back into things. So I wrote a letter telling her that I loved her, and that we used to love each other so much. That neither of us forced the other to love or marry. That I was committed to working on our marriage, was she? Itís kind of an end game move, but I figure that it will at least force the issue. That she will at least have to answer me.
Iím fearing the worst. That all her language before has already answered that question. That sheíll just say no. Iím of course hoping that sheíll be willing to at least entertain a conversation on the possibility of reconciliation. But I know thatís a slim hope indeed.
So I guess my question to all of you is this, am I fool to try and make this work? Has anyone gone through something that Iíve described and come out the other end with a happy conclusion? Obviously Iím simply self referencing, but can anyone see anything in what Iím describing that might help, or that Iím obviously missing? I figure anyone whoís made it through this whole thing will likely have insight, so I look forward to it.